Mr S M Ruia leading Alma Mater (B Prakash Up), winner of The Radio Mirchi Indian 1000 Guineas Gr-I
The Radio Mirchi Indian 1000 Guineas (Gr1) turned out to be a ‘spicy’ day with the main-event living up to its promise of an exciting finish. Every professional worth his salt had predicted that spotting the winner would not be easy until the winning post. That opinion proved spot on, only Alma Mater was spotted a stride earlier.
Class Apart began the tale by heading the field and working up a nice and true initial pace. Over the next two furlongs, she built a healthy lead racing well in front with the rest following in a thick bunch. Indomitable, Rebecca, Black Magic Woman, Vittoria, Queens Kiss, St Catz and Botswana sat with the pace. Lake paradise, Smashing, Haunting Fantasy, Romantique, Capriole, followed close behind, while Hills And Stars and Alma Mater were at the tail end of the field, but by no means were they well off the pace. The entire field was within about ten lengths from head to tail, if you discount Class Apart’s lead.
Class Apart entered the straight all by herself, with a lead of about five lengths. Rebecca started to pretend that she was in serious contention as she covered some ground momentarily. In a sudden surge, Black Magic Woman started to bridge the gap rapidly and at the same juncture, Botswana too was gaining ground along the rails. With 200m to go, Black Magic Woman was juggling with the lead as Botswana was posing a serious threat on her inside and both were going all out.
Taking you back to the final turn, Hills And Stars and Alma Mater followed the field homewards and while negotiating the turn, both went for the safer option of taking the wider passage. Alma Mater was the widest and on her inside was Hills And Stars. The duo easily galloped past the bunch of fillies putting in their best, Smashing included. Smashing was around the fifth or sixth at this stage. She had improved positions but was not making much headway with those in top flight, namely Black Magic Woman and Botswana and ended one off the frame. Into the final furlong, Botswana got the measure of Black Magic Woman as she headed her. At that stage, Botswana would have fancied her chances and not without reason. The momentum was going fine for her and the winning post was in sight.
Just then, B Prakash lit up Alma Mater and got really forceful in his riding. Alma Mater responded, but also came under pressure and drifted in. Hills And Stars, who was one on the inside of Alma Mater, was unfortunate to get caught in that drift. Split seconds made the difference. Hills And Stars had to take the foot off the gas pedal, swerve course, shift gears and charge again. She did all that and even gained on Alma Mater, however, the winning post arrived, a trifle too soon for her. Alma Mater on her part wasn’t complaining. She ran an aggressive race. In the final furlong she unleashed her fury and galloped at top speed. She showed great resolve and seized every opportunity to her advantage. She ran like a thorough professional and scored a well strategized victory. Jockey B Prakash followed the script to the ‘T’. His ploy paid off and Alma Mater’s success was a comprehensive effort of an efficient team, with Prakash implementing the drawing board discussion to perfection. Alma Mater was at her fittest and she revealed the champion in her in style! The race was fiercely competitive and Alma Mater earned her crown with a spectacular performance. Botswana ended a gallant second, just ahead of the persistent Black Magic Woman, giving trainer Pesi Shroff the first two slots. Hills And Stars ended an eye-catching fourth.
Alma Mater is by Royal Kingdom out of La Pieta, bred at the Equus Stud Farm, owned by Mr Shaym Ruia. The classic winner is owned by M/s Shyam Ruia, his son Amay Ruia, Pradeep Singhania & Suhurd Jhaveri, coming from the master trainer Pesi Shroff.
“This is truly a moment of great joy. Alma Mater did look very pleasant in the paddock. We knew she was fit and were hoping everything went right in the race for her. We had decided earlier that it would be best for her to stay off the early pace; hence she raced in the rear. By the final furlong, it was clear that she was travelling sweetly and eventually, she pulled it off providing us with immense joy,” said Mr Shyam Ruia.
“I had everything under control and coming into the straight, she was giving me a very good feel. I knew she was ready to go for it; I waited as long as I thought I should. The moment I asked her to go, she responded spontaneously and the rest was easy,” said jockey B Prakash.
Mr Prashant Panday CEO of Radio Mirchi along with Starlet Samira Reddy gave away the trophies to the winners. Mr Vivek Jain then honoured the CEO with a memento on behalf of the club. Mr Champaklal Zaveri then handed a flower bouquet to Ms Samira Reddy.
After the presentation Samira spoke to Indiarace, “I have been here before for the races and each time it takes my breath away. The fillies were so fit and competitive. The race was an absolute thriller. I was so excited when they got close to the winning post. It was amazing. I am surely going to come back for more,” she expressed honestly. Asked what had kept her from visiting the racecourse more often, she said, “I have been busy with two new film projects, both contrasting roles. In one, I am playing an adventurous role that involves scuba diving and the other is a typical Indian belle. So this has kept me busy. If I had the time, I would surely be here more often” she said, tempting me to add that she could get the latest update on indiarace.com to keep track of every development at the racecourse!
The turnout for the first Indian Classic was encouraging. The live presenters for television were working overtime and the warm and familiar Sameer Kocher teamed up with Emma Spencer a skilful jockey herself, and Mohit Lalvani to beam their views on the big race. Alma Mater did get a few pre-race mentions; hence, although she was quoted around 15/1 in the markets, you couldn’t really dub her as an out and out long-shot. It would be interesting how Alma Mater progresses from here. If Oaks is her next destination, she would need enough rest and Shroff may just let her have a crack at a mile and quarter race to pep her up for the ‘Ladies Derby’ slated for 22nd January 2012. Hills And Stars will be waiting for that moment.